France went on sale today, 11th January. From now until 14 February the soldes are taking place in the vast majority of the country. A few stubborn or otherwise non-conformist départements are holding theirs on different dates.

However, they may not be up to much this year since various surveys have found that many French people were planning to spend less at the sales this year. The austerity measures France faces mean that there’s a bit less disposable income jingling around in people’s pockets. Some reports have as many as 65% saying they’ll be spending less in the sales, while some other people have been putting off their purchases until the sales, to save a few euros. The average sales budget is apparently 229 euros. That seems pretty hefty until you take into account that a lot of people buy white goods in the sales (we have in the past when we’ve needed new ones) and that pushes the average up. Generally, though, I usually only buy a few pairs of trousers for various family members, and maybe a jumper or two, and that’s as far as it goes.

Caiti enjoys the sales. She’d been off sick the last two days, so I dropped her back at school this morning, after fitting in a quick dash to a few shops with her. It’s the first time I’d been to the soldes on their first day. I envisaged scenes such as you see on telly of the Boxing Day sales in England where hordes of people swoop screaming through the doorway the second it’s opened, and flatten assistants and old ladies underfoot. But it was all very quiet and civilised. But then Guéret never gets overexcited at the best of times!

Caits found some jeans and woolly tights with 30% so she was well pleased, especially as I was paying for them! However, she still hasn’t got over our early years when we had to watch and justify every single cent we spent, and was apologetic that she couldn’t find anything she liked among the 50% and 70% reduced items, silly but sweet girl. And there’s a reason those particular items are reduced that much – no one would be seen dead in them otherwise! There was a large display of troll skin waistcoats, at least that’s what Caiti reckoned they were. These hairy jerkins have to be one of the more bizarre items anyone has ever come up with yet!

Items in the soldes have to have been on sale in the shops for at least a month beforehand at full price. And sale items have the same guarantees and standards as other items. If you see a sign up saying Pendant les soldes, ni repris, ni échangé (no refunds or exchanges on sales items), then that’s illegal. If the item is faulty you are entitled to get your money back, even if was reduced. So take advantage of the sales, but be aware of your rights.

Happy bargain hunting!

(PS Gremlins struck and this post didn’t get made live until today – a day late. Sorry. It’s all someone else’s fault! OK, not really, it’s mine.)